By Jackie Range
Ten years seems like a lifetime. A whole decade of life changes and unravelling stories. When you’re in the grind every day, it’s tough to see the big picture…you forget that you’re part of a whole. There are people who came before you, people who will come after and a whole lot in between that has shaped things as you see them today.
As we celebrate 10 beautiful years of the Back on My Feet community thriving in Baltimore, I can’t reminisce without memories of someone who was instrumental in launching the chapter. Andrew Marr was tasked with spearheading the creation of Back on My Feet’s first expansion chapter. While daunting to most, it takes a special kind of quality to succeed in the unknown without a roadmap, a flashlight or a running route on a slip of paper in size 4 font. I’m not sure if it was his sirenic Scottish accent or his enchanting charisma but this guy was so compelling, he could sell you dirt. Not that I’m comparing Back on My Feet to dirt, but if I was, people were walking out of orientations having purchased it by the truckload.
Which was ironic because I distinctly remember Andy having a visceral disdain for running. Three months after the chapter launched, he signed up for the Baltimore 10 Miler – of all races – to run in solidarity with our members and volunteers. My cheery words of encouragement from the sideline were met with expletives and 9.5 miles of existential self-reflection. It wasn’t just that Andy loved golf so much that there was no room in his heart for running, and certainly was not for lack of athletic talent (the man has since gone on to complete both a plain old regular ironman and an extreme ironman). For Andy, Back on My Feet was never about the running. He believed so strongly in this idea that he was willing to dive headfirst into the unknown and take a chance on this seedling of a nonprofit fueled by a ‘deep belief [that] the power of authentic community, tone, conversation and sport…can be life-changing.’
In the span of a decade, tens of thousands of people have interacted with our organization – took a piece of it with them, left their mark on it, learned from it, been humbled by it, put their arms around it, ran from it, came back to it, shaped it, nurtured it and embodied it. If you are one of those people – thank you.
To Andy – just be a little more careful the next time you find yourself standing on a chair to convince a room full of strangers that Back on My Feet is something missing in their lives that they didn’t even know they needed. You just might empower an individual, a team, a community, a chapter, a city to be the best versions of themselves.
Happy 10th Birthday Baltimore! It’s been a great run.
1: Photo Credit: John Waire of The Wairehouse